Dear Mr. Trump,
I know you. I know you and I can see you.
I know the way you ridicule the disabled, the way you demean women, the way you chastise people of color and the way you run from the LGBTQ community. I know you because men like you have ridiculed me, demeaned me, chastised me and run from me my entire life. I have dated them, loved them, worshipped them, stood by them and slept with them. And I did this at a time when I hated who I was. I needed punishment and I needed to be shamed, so I gravitated toward the one type of human I knew would inflict the most pain.
You are a classic bully, Mr. Trump, and even in that mold, you are typical and unoriginal.
You stand for nothing. You believe in nothing. You covet and you profit, and those are your talismans ― because you, like all bullies, are a coward. What you do not understand you ignore, and what you do not agree with you try to annihilate. The people who surround you, who whisper in your ear and give you direction, are at least tied to their beliefs. As much as I may disagree with them, I believe them.
You stand for nothing. You believe the latest trends and live for your next performance.
I know you, Mr. Trump. Bullies need an audience. They need to be worshipped and cheered. They live in the lap of ignorance, and so their education of the human experience is limited to their own reflection and self-aggrandizement. That, at least, you excel at.
You stand for nothing. You believe in nothing. You covet and you profit, and those are your talismans — because you, like all bullies, are a coward.
I remember high school, when the bullying seemed to increase. Being transgender in the 1980s in a small, mostly white suburb of Chicago was to be surrounded by the misinformed and the ignorant. I was chased and pushed and beaten and raped. I was called a liar and left unprotected and told to stop provoking people. I was part of a society that was, much like now, learning how to cope with newness. As we change, we all fight for what is familiar. Our old ways seem safest, and so we resist the new ones. However, some of us do it with ease, and others do it with violence.
To rage against the wind sometimes blows us directly off course.
I realized, as I left for the city and eventually found my trans tribe, that I belonged to a community of people ― that what I was had nothing to do with what I wore. I wasn’t a mistake and I wasn’t a fetish. I wasn’t a choice and I wasn’t a fad. I realized that being transgender was steeped in ritual and history and that I had a family and that I mattered and that, just like millions of other humans, my people helped settle this country. I realized I was transgender and I was an American.
So now, in order to add more smoke and mirrors to your already discombobulated and frenzied joke of a presidency, you are pretending to understand our tribe and attempting to use us as political pawns to hide your ineptness at foreign policy. You want introduce a policy that says I am to be recognized only by my genitalia and nothing else. That my penis makes me male. That my 22-year-old marriage is null and void and that my professorship at the University of Southern California is in jeopardy. You want to create a policy that says my art is inconsequential and that my entire life as a trans person is a lie. And the irony is, you actually do not believe any of of this ― you do not believe this because you do not know us. You have no understanding and no idea of who we are, where we come from or what gifts we bring. You only know what you’ve been told, and because you are innately lazy, “research” is a dirty word for you.
But remember, Mr. Trump: I know you. We all know you. And you’re not fooling anyone.
You do not surprise or frighten us, and your antics will not cause us to run. You are the runner, Mr. Trump. You are the coward. You are the one with the secrets and lies. Over the years, you have built a kind of closet from which it might take you eons to find an exit. You see, while I found my humans tucked away in secret back in the ’80s ― and as AIDS, a great plague, came and swept so many of us away in a sea of blood and death ― I gained information. I learned. I asked questions. I found that information is power. And once I learned about you and all the humans like you ― because let’s be honest, bullies are not only male, they come in all genders ― I found that is the one thing all of you hate: information.
I can stand before you and live happily and freely, and I can do it with the hundreds of thousands of others like me around the world. No matter what policies or laws you may pass that try to deny my existence, I can continue to do that, with pride, with honor and with grace.
Once I knew you and smelled your fear of me, you lost your power over me. I realized that instead of my fists, I have an abundance of other ways to stop bullies in power. I can march. I can write. I can create. I can galvanize. I can protest. I can gather and I can collect. I can stand before you and live happily and freely, and I can do it with the hundreds of thousands of others like me around the world. No matter what policies or laws you may pass that try to deny my existence, I can continue to do that, with pride, with honor and with grace.
Most of all, Mr. Trump: I can vote. We all can.
And we will.
This is your last hurrah, Donald. Your last victory dance. Your last moment in the sun and your last few minutes to use our cherished American system to funnel your idiocy through your makeshift megaphone. Like all bullies, you might have crowds, but I know they are outnumbered by the righteous and the kind. And as much as I cannot wait to see you climb in your clown car and drive back to your decaying golden tower, I wish you sight, Mr. Trump. I wish you education and breath. I wish you healing and gratitude. I hope no one ever treats you the way you have treated others.
I learned a long time ago that holding on to hatred only leaves me hating those who do not care. So I release it. And I release you, Mr. Trump. You, personally, don’t matter. It is what you are trying to do that I will spend my energy fighting.
We will not rest until you are defeated. And we know how to do this. For this time, we are wide awake. You see, Mr. Trump, we know you. And we see you.
We always have.
See you at the ballot box.